What Causes Cloudy Vision in One Eye?

Having cloudy vision can make it seem as though you're always looking through fog or haze. It can occur in one or both eyes.

This article describes both common and rare causes of cloudy vision and how they are treated. It also explains when cloudy vision in one eye is most likely to be a minor problem versus a more serious condition.

Mature woman, portrait, close-up of left eye

Christopher Robbins / Getty Images

What Is Cloudy Vision?

Though they may sound similar, there is a difference between "cloudy" and "blurry" vision.

  • Cloudy vision feels like you're looking at everything through a fog or a haze.
  • Blurry vision means that what you're seeing is out of focus.

In addition to feeling like you're looking through a dirty or foggy window, cloudy vision can also include:

  • Seeing faded colors or halos around lights
  • Difficulty seeing at night

Causes

There are a variety of different conditions, both common and rare, that can cause cloudy vision. Many of them are minor, but some can be serious. Here's what to know about these conditions.

Common Causes

Floaters

Eye floaters are one of the most common causes of both cloudy and blurry vision. These can look like squiggly lines, blobs, or other shapes moving across your line of vision.

In most cases, floaters are nothing to worry about and will go away on their own. But if many appear suddenly, or they result in either central or peripheral vision loss, it's time to see a healthcare provider. (Peripheral vision is what allows you see out of the side of your eyes, rather than directly in front of you.)

Injury, Infection, or Inflammation

Sometimes, cloudy vision may result from an:

Cataracts

Often as people age, protein in the eye breaks down and clumps together. The clumps appear as cloudy spots on a person's lens. These spots are called cataracts.

In cases of mild cataracts, a person may not initially have symptoms. But eventually, the most recognizable sign of the condition is cloudy vision. The eye may also look cloudy to others.

Other symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Colors that look faded
  • Poor vision at night
  • Lamps, sunlight, or headlights that seem too bright
  • Halos appearing around lights
  • Double vision
  • Frequently having to change the prescription for your glasses

Rare Causes

Fuchs’ Dystrophy

Fuchs’ dystrophy is a disease of the cornea that occurs when cells in the inner corneal layer die off. (The cornea is the clear dome that covers the eye; it consists of five very thin layers of tissue.) This results in fluid building up on the cornea, and a person's vision becoming cloudy or blurry.

There are two stages of Fuchs' dystrophy. In the first stage, many people don't notice any symptoms. If they have a symptom, it's cloudy vision when they first wake up in the morning.

Symptoms of the second stage don't go away over the course of the day and can include:

  • A sandy or gritty feeling in your eyes
  • Being extra sensitive to bright light
  • Eye problems that get worse in humid areas
  • Very blurry or hazy vision from scarring at the center of the cornea

Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration occurs when the macula at the back of the eye starts to break down. Symptoms of the condition may include:

  • Cloudy vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Blank or dark spots in your field of vision
  • The appearance of waves or curves in straight lines

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can cause cloudy vision or vision loss in people who have diabetes.

While the early stages of diabetic retinopathy typically doesn't come with noticeable symptoms, later stages may include changes in vision or seeing dark, floating spots or streaks that look like cobwebs.

Recap

Cloudy vision can be temporary—resulting from a minor issue like a floater—or may be permanent unless treated with surgery, like cataracts.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Any time there are issues with your vision—including cloudy vision in one or both eyes—it's a good idea to see a healthcare provider.

In addition to cloudy vision in one or both eyes, get a complete eye exam with an optometrist or ophthalmologist if you have:

  • Trouble seeing objects in your peripheral vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night or when reading
  • A gradual loss of the sharpness of your vision
  • Difficulty telling colors apart
  • Blurred vision when trying to view objects near or far
  • Diabetes or a family history of diabetes
  • Eye itching or discharge
  • Vision changes that seem related to medication (However, don't stop or change a medicine without talking to your healthcare provider.)

When Is Sudden Cloudy Vision in One Eye a Medical Emergency?

In some cases, sudden cloudy vision in one or both eyes could be the sign of something serious that requires emergency medical treatment. These signs include:

  • Partial or complete blindness in one or both eyes, even if it is only temporary
  • Double vision, even if it is temporary
  • A sensation of a shade being pulled over your eyes or a curtain being drawn from the side, above, or below
  • Blind spots, halos around lights, or areas of distorted vision that appear suddenly
  • Sudden blurred vision with eye pain, particularly if the eye is also red. A red, painful eye with blurred vision is a medical emergency.

Treatment

The treatments for cloudy vision in one or both eyes depend on its root cause. Here are some of the causes and their treatments:

  • Cataracts: Surgery is the only option.
  • Fuchs' dystrophy: There is no cure but depending on the severity of the case, it can be treated using eye drops or a corneal transplant.
  • Macular degeneration: There is no cure, though it's commonly treated through certain nutritional supplements, antivascular endothelial growth factor (a medication that stops the growth of blood vessels in the eye), and photodynamic therapy.
  • Diabetic retinopathy: This can be treated with eye injections, laser surgery, or other types of eye surgery.

Eye infections are typically treated with topical or oral medications.

Summary

Cloudy vision in one or both eyes can happen as a result of an infection (like conjunctivitis) or floaters, both of which are common and not serious. Cataracts, which cause the vision to become cloudy due to aging, are treated with minor surgery. Other, more serious causes of cloudy vision include macular degeneration and diabetes.

A Word From Verywell

If you notice that your vision is cloudy, take note of when it started and how long you've been experiencing it. Be sure to provide your healthcare provider with this information. If cloudy vision is accompanied by any of the symptoms listed above, make sure you get medical attention as quickly as possible.

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8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Eye Institute. Floaters.

  2. American Academy of Ophthalmology. What is Fuchs’ dystrophy?

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Age-related macular degeneration: symptoms & treatment.

  4. National Eye Institute. Diabetic retinopathy.

  5. National Eye Institute. Cataracts.

  6. MedlinePlus. Vision problems.

  7. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Fuchs’ dystrophy treatment.

  8. Cleveland Clinic. Age-related macular degeneration management and treatment.